[whatwg] Alt text authoring Re: Conformance for Mail clients

Henri Sivonen hsivonen at iki.fi
Mon Apr 23 02:43:46 PDT 2007

On Apr 23, 2007, at 03:00, Andrew Sidwell wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> How about:
>> <img src="gallery2.jpg" alt="">  -- image could be omitted without
>> changing the meaning of the document (screen readers or text-only
>> browsers could just skip it)
>> <img src="gallery2.jpg" noalt> -- image cannot be omitted without
>> changing the meaning, but no text equivalent is available (screen
>> readers or text-only browsers / mail clients should give some  
>> indication
>> that an image is there)
> I actively like noalt.

I fail to see why noalt would better than the absence of the alt  
attribute. Web apps like Flickr could generate noalt with good  
confidence, but I don't see how quasi-WYSIWYG tools could be none the  
smarter with generating noalt than they could be with omitting alt.  
Therefore, I think the spec should cater for the behavior of Lynx here.

> Using alt="" has always seemed like a hack to
> me, implying that it did have alternative text when really it didn't.

Indeed. It is the obvious effect of trying to factor unrealistic  
ideals into conformance requirements. The harm-minimizing fix is to  
concede that you cannot force people to provide alt if they don't  
want to and make alt optional for the purposes of document conformance.

Henri Sivonen
hsivonen at iki.fi

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